/ Published August 20, 2014
NASA Historical Data Book, vol. 7, Transportation/Human Spaceflight, and Space Science, 1989-1998 by Judy Rumerman. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2009, 1,050 pp.
Because space power includes all of a nation’s space capabilities, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and its activities are key components of American space power. Judy Rumerman’s seventh entry in the series of NASA Historical Data Books—reference guides and compendiums of information that cover the civil space program’s activities immediately following the end of the Cold War—is a very useful tool for space power historians and scholars. Between 1989 and 1998, NASA enjoyed tremendous successes and suffered devastating defeats. It launched 215 expendable launch vehicles, conducted 66 space shuttle missions, flew to the Russian Mir space station, began construction of the International Space Station, and initiated 30 space science missions (successfully exploring the Jupiter system but failing in every Mars mission). Rumerman ably catalogs a great deal of information about each of these space activities, and her efforts will make future research into all of these missions much easier.
She makes extensive use of annual budget estimates, press kits and releases, mission operations reports, various books and government reports, and website information to compile details on NASA programs and projects that range from technical diagrams and mission data to detailed budgets. Relatively brief but impressive introductory essays for each chapter offer much-needed context to the various heaps of data that Rumerman provides. The result is a thorough guide to every NASA mission accomplished within the time frame.
The first chapter explains NASA organization, appropriations, and management procedures during the selected decade. Other chapters include information on launch and space transportation (roughly 20 percent of the book), human spaceflight (35 percent), and space science (40 percent). Summary text comprises one-third to one-half of each chapter, the rest filled with graphics, figures, and tables of data. The author’s presentation format is remarkably useful, allowing interested readers to look up a particular mission in the comprehensive index, read a brief summary, and then scour the pages of pertinent tables, figures, and pictures. The book contains a great deal of information on every NASA mission active during this period and is comprehensively documented so that scholars who need additional data know where to find it.
Of course, as a reference book, it is not meant to be read cover-to-cover. The written sections of each chapter are capable, easily readable summaries, but Rumerman’s volume belongs on a library’s shelf—not on a professional reading list. It has relevance to the Air Force community as an indispensable guide to NASA activities for educational and research institutions, but even Airmen attempting to build comprehensive personal libraries need not purchase this volume. However, anyone needing information on NASA activities from 1989 to 1998 should consult volume 7 of Rumerman’s Historical Data Book. It’s a great place to start—and perhaps even finish—collecting the required material.
Maj Brent D. Ziarnick, USAFR
Reserve National Security Space Institute, Colorado
"The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of the US government or the Department of Defense."